Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Reader Report: Dug Down Deep

Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why it Matters

What are you going to build your life on?
Dug Down Deep is systematic theology like you’ve never seen it before. Readable. Relevant. Powerful. As best-selling author Joshua Harris shares his own journey from apathetic church-kid to student with a burning passion to truly know God, you’ll be challenged to dig deep into the truths of God’s word. 
With humor, conviction and compelling insight Dug Down Deep covers the basics of faith—God, scripture, Jesus, the cross, salvation, sanctification, the Holy Spirit and the church. Don’t settle for superficial faith, dig deep.

Joshua Harris is senior pastor of Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which belongs to the Sovereign Grace network of local churches. He is the author of Why Church Matters and several books on relationships, including the run-away bestseller, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. He and his wife, Shannon, have three children. Find out more at www.joshharris.com.

Publishing Info:
Multnomah Books, 2010

I found this book in a roundabout way. I hadn't planned on reading it. I was looking for Harris' most popular book - I Kissed Dating Goodbye, recommended for teenage girls by the Duggars on their website and in their books. When I went to the library, that one was checked out, but Dug Down Deep was available. I picked it up.

I started this book right after I finished my last - on May 9. Yikes. That's a long time. The first couple chapters were agonizing. I didn't agree with everything he said, I wasn't sucked in. Unsure whether I should keep trying or just not finish the book, I put it on hold, starting another book and reading more scriptures.

Yesterday, my family went to the pool, but I didn't feel like swimming, so I brought this book, thinking that this would be the last day and I'd decide whether I'd finish it or not. At the pool, I read about 50 pages. It got good. After my nap (6-9pm, why did I do that), I couldn't sleep and started reading again. I stayed up for hours reading because I couldn't put it down, and finished around 2 am (not typical for me).

So, I guess you could say I enjoyed it. Harris' book is basically an explanation of everything he believes. It's divided into chapters about the most important aspects of Christianity - God is very different from us (holy), the Bible is how God speaks to us, Jesus was fully God and fully man, in Jesus Christ we can find redemption, etc. I'll share some of my favorite points from the book.

Near But Not in my Pocket: God is utterly different from me. And that is utterly wonderful.

  • "I would never dare to call God my divine Butler or Cosmic Therapist, but how often do I treat Him as if He were?" (p 41)

Ripping, Burning, Eating: When we read the Bible, it opens us up. It reads us.
  • "Revelation is for relationship" (p 61). We have scriptures and prophets and answered prayers for one reason: so we can know the truth about God and be brought into relationship with Him through the Atonement of Jesus Christ
  • "God's Word meets us where we are. It meets us in the midst of doubt. It speaks to us in the midst of spiritual struggle. Maybe that's where you are. The teachings of a college professor has you feeling like a fool for trusting in an 'outdated, flawed book.' Or maybe you're just tired. Reading the bible feels like an empty exercise. God can meet you and me in these moments of life. The Bible isn't just for people who feel strong. I'm grateful we don't have to lead perfect lives to read God's perfect Word. Jeremiah's life teaches us this. Jeremiah suffered. He was discouraged. God's Word isn't just for the happy people of the world. We can find joy in God's word and the trustworthiness of His promises even when we lack joy in our hearts. Sometimes we have to work to find delight in God's Word. Jeremiah said that when he ate God's words, they became a joy. They don't become a joy sitting on a shelf. We have to taste them to receive them. The fact that this requires effort shouldn't discourage us. As we grow in our knowledge of how trustworthy and powerful scriptures is, our love for it will increase" (p 71).

God With a Bellybutton: Jesus is unique. And He came to accomplish something that no one else could. 

A Way to Be Good Again: For too long the news that Jesus died for my sins had no real meaning.
  • "The Cross wasn't the tragic upending of Jesus' plan; it was the fulfillment of His plan" (p 99). The Atonement was and is the plan. 

The Invisible Made Visible: God's plan has always been a group plan--He reveals himself through His people.

I really loved this chapter on the church. As many Christians do, Harris uses "church" to describe the worldwide community to self-professed believers, wherever they may be, and whatever specifics they believe. I however, know that there is only one real true and living Church, being the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As I read this chapter, I read it with my worldview, reading what the bible says about the church (or the Church). And it was fascinating.
  • "What if we saw that the church is more than a human program, more than what some disparagingly refer to as organized religion? What if we saw that it originated in the heart and mind of God himself and that His plan began before the dawn of human history and stretched into eternity? . . . What if the church is the means by which God has chosen to accomplish His purpose for us and for the world? And what if it is irreplaceable?" (p 199). He chose us to do His holy work. Isn't that amazing? 
  • "God chose to join Himself to a ragtag group of humans. He set them apart as His special people and gave them the privilege of representing Him to the world" (p 201). He chose us. We imperfect, flawed, weak humans. He chooses to work though us. And it is our responsibility to represent Him to the world as best we can. When Latter-Day Saints take the sacrament (communion, the Lord's Supper), we "eat in remembrance of the body of [His] Son, and witness unto [Him], O God, the Eternal Father, that [we] are willing to take upon [us] the name of [His] Son" (Moroni 4, Doctrine & Covenants 20:75-79). Every week we take His name upon us and promise to represent Him to the world. "In [our] worship, in [our] obedience to God's laws, in [our] rituals and commitment to holiness, the character of God [is] displayed. . . . The Church, comprised of men and women from every nationality and ethnicity, is now God's chosen people in the world. The church is how God makes Himself known in the world." (p 201). "The world can't see God. They can't see His reign in our hearts. But we join our lives together in the church so they can see Him. They see Him when we obey his commands. When we love one another. When we preach His Word and proclaim His gospel. When we do good works and serve the poor and the outcast. On earth everything we do--our worship, our building of Christian community, our service, our work--is to done with an eye to spreading to fame and glory of Jesus Christ so the nations might know and worship Him with us" (p 207). People look at Christ's Church to learn about Him. Are we showing people what God is like in the way we act, dress, speak, use our time?
  • "What is the church? It is the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham to bless all the nations of the world" (p 201). "The mission of the covenant people is to serve the Lord by blessing others with the gospel" (Institute Student Manual Religion 301, p 72)
  • "God's purpose for me is inextricably tied to His purpose for His people. My faith isn't all about me. It isn't only about my story and my journey" (p 207). This hit me, because it's a lesson I've just learned, and have thought about countless times. "My faith isn't all about me." When Sister A got transferred and I didn't want Sister D2, I wondered how in the world could this be for my good?! Why would God do this to me? He didn't move them for me, but He moved them and taught me through that. He taught me that the church and the world and His work don't revolve around me. Mt faith isn't all about me. My faith is about Him, and His people, and His work, and His Church. I'm not saved alone. This faith is for the whole human family. It's about the other people who need Sister A or Sister D2 in their respective cities. It is about every single person on this earth hearing the Word of God and coming to his banquet. I've learned of Him, I've been baptized, I attend church every week and read the Book of Mormon. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). I don't need the missionaries now like some others do. Other people need the missionaries to hear the word and be "snatched out of [their] awful, sinful and polluted state" by the mercy of God (Alma 26:17), as I have been. 

Harris ends his book with a chapter called "Humble Orthodoxy" (now a book itself). He says it's important to know truth, but it's more important to live truth - and live it humbly. 

This book had a lot of great things (as you can see). I would recommend it. I would also recommend that Harris publish a second version with the first chapters taken out or moved to later in the book because they're boring. So, if you can trek through the first couple chapters (or skip them), this is a great read! 

"Jesus Christ is the most famous, most powerful, most controversial and revolutionary person in all human history. And He has promised to come back."

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